Wine and Cheese Parties
Among buffets a wine and cheese party is among the easiest, and also the most economical. Apart from getting the house ready, you need to make minimum preparation. Allow about 4 to 6 ounces of cheese per person, a bit more for a-cheese that may prove to be the favourite. It’s simplest to limit the number of cheeses, so that they can be in sizeable lumps, or — even better — whole cheeses. If you can be sure of getting Brie or Camembert at the peak of maturity, get a whole one, or two (or more) according to the size of the party. Safer perhaps are the pressed cheeses which keep well: Stilton.Wensleydale, Double Gloucester, Cheshire, Cheddar and Caerphilly, Holland’s Edam and Gouda, France’s goat-milk cheese like Chabichou and Chavignol, Italy’s Bel Paese, Switzerland’s Gruyere and Emmenthal. Try to offer different styles of cheeses. Have the milder ones at the starting-point of your buffet table, where your guests pick up plate, knife and napkin. Work up to the fruitiest at the other end — say a Roquefort, a Gorgonzola, a Danish Blue or a ripe Stilton. Fresh French loaves, which your guests cut themselves, or unsweetened biscuits are ideal accompaniments. Butter is optional but usually appreciated. Keep the wines simple too — a dry or medium dry white to go with the milder cheeses, fuller-bodied reds for the more flavourful. The ultimate refinement is to offer a wine from the same region as the cheese — a rich Rhone to accompany Roquefort, for instance, or a Chianti Classico or a Barbaresco with the Gorgonzola. But Burgundies, Clarets and Chinon from the Loire are recognized as classic accompaniments to cheese, too, and by long tradition Port is the ideal partner to Stilton. Obviously, a cheese and wine party is at its most effective when numbers are large. You can make it a bit more elaborate by serving a fondu, dip or quiche.
A simple dip can be made by blending 1/2 lb. cream cheese with 5 oz. of sour cream, laced with 4 oz. Bacon, crisply grilled and broken up into tiny pieces. Make it early in the day and serve it cold with crisp vegetable dunkers, also prepared early and kept fresh in water. And a couple of attractive asparagus quiches, incorporating grated Cheddar in the crust and grated Parmesan in the cream-and-eggs filling, can be made the day before and reheated in the oven at 400°F (Gas Mark 6, 200 °C) for 15 minutes.
Russell, because he had been given Port in a Claret glass! It is a well-known fault of the British that they take the outward form of things too seriously, but I doubt if anyone would care now as much as Mr. Gladstone did.